Review: High Priestess ‘Casting The Circle’

How many WTF moments have you experienced lately?  My guess is (and I figure it is relatively accurate) a whole hell of a lot.  Not only has the world radically shifted, but any sense of normalcy has managed to vanish seemingly overnight.   It’s one thing when life takes a dramatic about-face.  It is entirely another when that change is the result of life and livelihood threatening circumstances.  It’s in these moments where the music seems to matter a bit more.  The ability art has to whisk us away, to propel us into a state outside of the present moment, to create a universe that is entirely shocking in a positive way amongst the absolute insanity.

Review: High Priestess 'Casting The Circle'

This brings me to the reason about ninety-nine percent of you are reading…High Priestess. I’m happy to cut to the chase here. The album is good….great….and downright awesome. Not only has the Los Angeles trio lived up to their debut offering, but they’ve also accomplished that rare achievement of surpassing already high expectations for this sophomore offering. 

Casting The Circle is out now via Ripple Music and it firmly falls into the ‘must listen’ category. Coming in at five tracks in length, the albums brilliance lies in its clear ability to transport the listener to another world, dare I say dimension, through its trance like delivery and attention-worthy structure.

From the onset, it’s clear that Casting The Circle is going to take you on a ritualistic journey of sorts. The title track broods and builds with chants and feedback over ominous drums. Similar to some stylings from their first album, there’s a clear Middle Eastern caravan feel. Almost instantly you feel invited to another realm. Riffs build through the two and a half minute mark and continue well into the third minute all the while feeling like something is lurking in the mist-covered shroud High Priestess is creating. 

This is a multiple listen album that manages to suck you in deeper and deeper to its smoke-laden corridors each time you venture in…

The vivid imagery of the album continues with Erebus.  The guitar emerges into the song like a dark shadow starting to creep from the recesses of the corridor. As the Sabbath-esq riff moves toward the minute and a half mark, more of the spot-on harmonies you expect from High Priestess begin and the track starts to shine. At over nine minutes, Erebus feels more like three. Every note embraces a sense of mystery as to what the next will be and you never get a chance to be anywhere other than immersed in the song.

As the strums of The Hourglass begin to develop again the build-up and structure of the song comes center stage. Lead work interplays with the vocal harmonies seamlessly leading to the dramatic pullback of instruments at two and a half minutes, only to glide into some of my favorite guitar work on the album. 

Then we come to Invocation.  With a playing time of seventeen minutes and twenty-two seconds it feels as though every song to this point has been building to what has quickly become my favorite track of the band.  The longest song on the album features some of the heaviest riffs and the full array of what sets High Priestesses apart. As the song ebbs through several themes into the eight and a half minute mark, and again before the eleventh minute, it becomes clear that meticulous attention has been given to every note and direction. 

With the conclusion of the vocal only track, Ava Satanas, the journey comes to an end. However, like all good art, something sticks with you as if possibly conjured by High Priestess during this ritual you just participated in. This is a multiple listen album that manages to suck you in deeper and deeper to its smoke-laden corridors each time you venture in. It clearly represents a band at the height of their craft and leaves us all anxious for what may be next.

Label: Ripple Music
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Scott Anderson